The afternoon after my appearing shirtless on At Home with Maya blew up my boss’ Facebook page, I was early for the meeting Sandy called me in for that morning. Belen opened the side door to let me into the house, and, I’m probably imagining it, but I think she gave me a look like she knew what was going on. At least she didn’t say “buenas tardes, el guapo” lol.
Sandy was on the phone when I got to her office. She signed for me to sit down and wound up her phone call, which was the kind of business call you have no idea what it’s about unless you’re in the business.
“Well well well, it’s Hashtag Baseball Boy,” she said.
“Oh, please,” I said. Of course it would be the way Sandy said ‘Baseball Boy’ that made me blush.
“How are you handling it?”
“I’m not sure what there is to handle?”
“Well…you’ve blown up Maya’s Facebook page, so much so that our social media people are talking about getting you your own page, but that may be premature. Someone took most of your segment in the pool and posted it on YouTube and…”
“…don’t tell me it’s gotten ten million hits.”
“No, it’s nothing like that. Yet. But someone also posted just the 10 second clip of you climbing out of the pool. Do you have any idea how hot you look when you do that?”
“It’s not something I want to admit that I know,” I said, thinking of Allan, “but, yeah, I’ve got an idea.”
And dang did that set off more blushing.
“There’s also been a deluge of email wanting to know more about you. We’re already planning to set up an email address for you, but the social media team will take care of most of that for you. They are gonna need to know more about you, though, and it’s always easier if you tell the truth.”
“I’m a terrible liar. My parents raised me that way on purpose.”
“That’ll be good. I doubt that TMZ is going to start sifting through your garbage, but the internet has a way of finding things out. Is there anything we’re going to need to try and hide?”
“No, ma’am,” I said. “I’m an open book. Well…mostly. But I do have a blog where I’ve written a lot about myself and my friends…”
“Get ready for traffic, then.”
“Like how much?” I regularly check out how many visitors the blog has had…and, well, it’s not like there are thousands of people out there who are reading about me.
“Only time can tell,” Sandy said. “It’s a long way from having someone write on Facebook that they wish they could have a private lesson with Hashtag Baseball Boy” (I cringed there a little) “to actually taking the time to go read something at baseballboysblog.com.”
“It’s hunterblocksblog.com, ma’am.”
My mind had already started racing though, thinking about all the things I’ve written in the blog. The one I kept obsessing about was that I’ve written that I used to be called Heartthrob by my teammates in Hickory. While it’s cool for Dani at the Volcano to call me that (if the Volcano ever opens up again), I don’t want all of America using that name. Then I told myself that, hey, maybe Baseball Boy isn’t so bad after all.
My thoughts were interrupted when, to my enormous surprise, Maya Bedrossian herself walked into the office.
She was a little shorter than I always thought she was, but she looked amazing, forget whatever her age was and that she was a client at Daphne’s clinic. Her hair was pulled back in a pony tail, but her makeup was perfect. She wasn’t dressed to hang out at home in sweats, either – she was in a dress with jewelry and heels and just plain old looked awesome. This was really the first time I met a famous person, and, yeah, there was something about her when she came into the room that kinda filled it.
“So this is our new overnight sensation,” she said, looking at me and talking about me as though I weren’t in the room the way all the TV show people do when I’m around. She checked me out head-to-toe, but not in a totally bad way. I noticed she had extremely long, very black eyelashes…but they didn’t look like the false eyelashes Joyce sometimes puts on as semi-joke. “He’s even handsomer in person.” There was a pause. I sure as fuck didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if she was mad because I was suddenly a big deal on her show or, well, or anything. Maya also had on a very, very nice perfume that probably cost a fortune and that was distracting the fuck outta me.
“Your name’s Hunter, right?” I nodded, still basically tongue-tied. “I’m Maya Bedrossian.” She put out her hand for me to shake. I don’t usually enjoy shaking hands with women, especially when they have delicate hands like Maya. I didn’t give it much of a squeeze as a result. Dad geared my handshake to men with big hands and good grips.
“Um…pleased to meet you, ma’am…I…um…”
“Relax,” she said. “It’s not like you’re meeting the Queen of England.”
She smiled at me. It only made me more tongue-tied and goofy.
“You can sit down again, Hunter,” she then said. I didn’t, until Sandy motioned with her head to a chair that was against the wall. I brought it closer to Sandy’s desk…then moved it back what I thought was 6’. Then I noticed Maya didn’t have a mask on, but, then, she was at home and I was a visitor.
We all sat down before Maya said:
“So what are we going to do about you?”
“I…is there anything that needs to be done? I mean the boys are awesome and I like working with them, but, well…I never expected anything like this to happen…”
“It’s happening,” said Maya, “so you might as well go along with it. It’s not as bad as you may be thinking,” she then said. “Fame can be scary, but I don’t think people are going to be stalking you at your apartment. No one was expecting this kind of reaction…although none of us had really gotten a look at you, either…but I say mazel tov, make the most of it. The reason we have the show is to promote ourselves and make money…and I don’t have to be the only person who gets something out of it. I’ve turned my house into a fishbowl and it turns out my kids’ baseball tutor looks fantastic in a bathing suit. You might just as well benefit from it.”
From that at least I could tell Maya wasn’t angry that I’d somehow monopolized all the Facebook reaction to the episode the night before.
“We’ll just see how it plays out. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t keep up…or be surprised if it does. Fame is a roller coaster, Hunter, and all you can do is get on and hope you enjoy the ride. For the time being we’re just going to have you keep on doing what you do with the boys, although Sandy will tell you about our lengthening our segments with Matteo now that he’s started the weight reduction program.
“Could we maybe get him some tank tops for when he’s working with Matteo in the gym?,” Maya then asked Sandy.
There are several rules I’ve had drummed into my head over the years. One of them – it started with our coach in high school – is that tank tops are totally gayass. I couldn’t very well say that to Maya, given her gay fan base…but I guess I looked unhappy about the idea.
“Not your thing?,” she asked me.
“Not my thing.”
“Besides,” said Sandy, partly coming to my rescue I guess, “we’ll see plenty of him shirtless by the pool as long as we have swimming weather.”
“It’s pretty much always swimming weather with me,” I explained. “I love being in the water.”
“I could tell that from the footage they shot of you and Jacob. It’s one of the things that made it so charming. But, ok, no tank tops. I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m prostituting you or something.”
“No…I….I don’t think that certainly. I don’t know what to make of having all this stuff written about me by total strangers…”
“Some of whom, I have to warn you, will think they know you because of what they’ve seen of you on TV. If you read between the lines of some of the comments you can already tell that some of your fans have a crush on you. Incredibly good looking young men who are great with kids are going to appeal to a lot of women.”
I hadn’t thought about it that way.
“Sandy, will you tell Ethan that we want a segment of Hunter in the pool again with Jacob.”
“The crew’s already waiting for Hunter outside. I’ll text Ethan about the pool.”
“Actually it’s Matteo I’m putting in the pool today He keeps promising he’ll try it, but he keeps putting it off.”
“That’s Matteo for you,” Maya said. It wasn’t mean or anything, just like it was a statement of fact. “I’m glad you’re getting him to go swimming, but…no…I don’t think we want to see Matteo in the pool. You can go swimming with Jacob, can’t you?”
“Sure. Jacob loves the water. Although it may just be the same kind of stuff we did together last week.”
“Ethan will think of something,” Maya said. “Half the time I feel like I’m doing exactly the same thing I did the week before, too. But Ethan and the crew make it look like something different somehow. Trust them. They’re the best in the business, if you ask me. Now I have to go, I have a meeting on the other side of town. It’s been lovely meeting you, Hunter.”
She stood up. I stood up. She gave me a kiss on the cheek.
“We’ll be in touch.”
“That,” Sandy said after Maya had left the room but while I could still smell her perfume, “is your boss. She’s actually pretty cool for a star.”
“Do you know a lot of stars?”
“I’ve known a few in my time. But one thing she knows about is being famous. She’ll keep an eye on you and we’ll try not to let things get out of hand. But if people do start emailing you asking you to mail them a pair of your underwear…”
“Ew,” I interjected.
“It happens,” Sandy said. “If they start wanting that or if other weird shit” I distinctly remember that Sandy said ‘shit’ there “starts happening, Maya is the ideal person to get you through it. She’s been through it all, crazed stalkers and everything. She knows all about security and how to go out in public and not be recognized…she’s awesome.”
I only spent a couple minutes with Maya, but I was thinking she was kinda awesome too. And I did feel I was in good hands, however this was gonna turn out. Now that I’d talked to a really famous person and saw that she was pretty much normal, it wasn’t feeling so crazy anymore, and that was a relief.
Then I went outside so I could do my job, reality TV or no reality TV.
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